I have arrived in Kurunegala. The journey from Colombo took about three hours including a breakfast stop. We passed some very beautiful countryside with coconut trees lining the road almost all the way. Apparently, Kurunegala forms one corner of the coconut triangle. So I have moved from the rhubarb traingle of West Yorkshire to the coconut triangle. When I shared this with my new colleagues it didn't have the response I had hoped for as they have no idea what rhubarb is.
I was pleasantly surprised by my new house. I live on the ground floor and Chiharu from Japan lives upstairs. We were met by my new landlord 'Mr Vicky' and his wife Susila both who have been very welcoming and helpful. Mr Vicky has put me in touch with a man about a bicycle (so I can cycle to work), a reliable tri-shaw driver, a doctor and an electrician/plumber, three of whom I've been in contact already (not the doctor). We have to put the water pump on in the morning and on Sunday when Chiharu was away I went to put the pump on and of course...nothing. So I phoned the electrician/plumber who arrived in 15 minutes, fixed it in 10 and left with a smile...and on a Sunday!!
I share my des-res with several tiny ghecko's in the living room and kitchen, a very large spider in the bathroom and some cockroaches in one of the kitchen cupboards, (which I have not opened again). I have quickly learnt to switch on the bathroom light and rap on the door before entering at night. I hadn't seen the spider for the last couple of nights until last night when I discovered why. He has moved into the spare bedroom. Unfortunately, my cases are on the floor in the bedroom and I fear I shall never be able to pack a weekend bag again.
The only real snag with the house is that it is near a noisy road and I didn't get any sleep the first night, so I have had to fashion some soundproofing in the bedroom.
On my first day, Chiharu showed me where the supermarket is and I was able to buy a few things but forgot to get candles, which I needed when I got back because there was a huge thunderstorm, which caused a powercut. Fortunately, I was able to send an sos to Jayanthe who came round with candles and supper! I have since discovered the power goes off at regular intervals whether there is a thunderstorm or not.
Work is about 5km from my house heading out of town passed the paddy fields. The staff seem friendly and have been very welcoming. The doctor in charge, Dr T has been especially kind and has some good ideas. On my first day I was met by the staff and clients and introduced myself in my best sinhala, which caused much laughter. Then when I was given tea (black made with about a kilo of sugar) while the clients sang some traditional songs. On my second day we met with the directors of health services for the province and district. There is a clear hierarchy and I wasn't too sure about the protocol. There was a number of awkward silences and I wasn't sure if I was expected to ask questions or they expected to take charge of the conversation. Anyway Dr T said it was fine and I don't think I've put my foot in it...yet. After that we went to collect Dr T's two youngest son's (aged 3 and 5 and very cute) from school and then she invited me back home with them for lunch. While she was getting things ready I played a version of peekaboo and hide and seek with the boys. I think I have become a hit as the next day Dr T said her eldest son and husband wanted to meet me and today she said as we are now good friends she will show me the shortcut to her house and I can come round anytime and play with the boys.
I was elated today when Dr T said she loved the way I spoke sinhala. She added she couldn't understand what I was saying (crushed). Her mother also said that my english accent when speaking english was odd and difficult to understand. Surely that can't be right?
I have managed to sort out mobile broadband but the connection is very hit and miss, which is disappointing. I don't know why I am so disappointed, I certainly wasn't expecting internet at home at all. Give an inch eh? ...And I have an electric shower...hot water. Hurrah!